Ken Searle is a self-taught artist. In the mid 1970s he began regularly exhibiting works at Watters Gallery in Sydney and has also held exhibitions at commercial galleries in Melbourne. His paintings are held in the collections of the Australian National Gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia and many regional galleries and private collections.
Searle is mainly known for large oil on canvas paintings, which portray urban areas. In 1978, in 'Newtown', the artist produced a major study of that suburb. In 1991, the show WEST depicted a fifty-kilometre section of Sydney's western suburbs through a linked series of eight large oil canvases and sixty smaller works in oil, pencil and charcoal. This series was on display in the exhibition 'Sydney suburb', at the Museum of Sydney. In 1999, Ken Searle revisited the sites of his early painting of Newtown, to produce the major work, 'Newtown Revisited'.
After living for more than a decade in the Blue Mountains and rural Victoria, in 1996 Ken moved back to Sydney, where he now lives and paints in the Canterbury City. This is a return to the area where he grew up.
Ken Searle is currently engaged on a series of paintings which will trace the line of the Cooks River from Botany Bay back to Strathfield, portraying something of the diversity of the people and places along the way. The first six sketches for this series were exhibited at Watters Gallery, East Sydney.
Canterbury City Library exhibited 14 paintings and drawings by the artist, which opened on the 3rd of July 2000. These included landscapes along the banks of the Cooks River, as well as scenes around the airport and La Perouse.